Saturday, 08 April 2006
By BosNewsLife News Center
MOSCOW, RUSSIA (BosNewsLife) -- There was concern Saturday, April 8, over the future of Christian radio in Russia after the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications refused to renew the radio license of a key evangelical radio station, an official said.
New Life Radio in the Russian city of Magadan applied for a new permission this fall but "was informed that the deputy minister refused to approve the license renewal due to late submission of documents," said network representative Dan Johnson in an interview with US-based Mission Network News (MNN), a Christian broadcaster.
Johnson added however that the action seemed part of Moscow's actions against Christian radio stations. "There is a bias that exists within the government against evangelical mission activities and in this case we're concerned that radio has simply been targeted and we fear for the future development of radio."
He added that "the deputy minister continued to give approval and his signatures for other secular radio stations seeking license renewals..."
NO NEW NETWORKS
Johnson said there were currently only two Christian radio networks in Russia as "no new Christian stations have started in the last five years," apparently due to tensions with authorities.
"For us the bigger question is the Russian government's move against freedom of religion and freedom of the press," he explained. He stressed that New Life would appeal the decision to the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications and does not rule out a court case.
Russian officials were not immediately available for comment. Russian President Alexander Putin has come under international pressure to improve human rights and the freedom of expression situation in the country.
During a visit to Hungary last down he tried to play down concerns over these issues, while human rights activist were kept on a distance.
Russia is a predominantly Orthodox nation, and analysts say Moscow has been concerned about the growing influence of evangelical congregations and activities of missionaries in the country. (With BosNewsLife Monitoring and reports from Russia).
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